Dance for Every Body: Engaging communities and making Vancouver move

Excerpt of an article published in Dance International by Hilary Maxwell

Everybody can dance. This notion lies at the heart of community-engaged dance, where diversity and inclusivity are embraced, and the artistic process is shared between  professional dance artists and community members. For several Vancouver dancemakers, working in community contexts plays an essential role in their practice. 

In the early 1990s, when community-engaged dance was beginning to take hold on the west coast, the term did not even exist and there was little awareness about this type of work in the professional arena or among funding bodies. Nor was there the same kind of infrastructure in place to support community projects. Three choreographers who were significant in opening the conversation about where the borders of artistic practice lie are Judith Marcuse, Joe Laughlin and Karen Jamieson.  

In the booklet, Dancing our Stories (2005), City of Vancouver cultural planner Douglas D. Durand highlights the ways in which Marcuse, Laughlin and Jamieson were broadening the scope of their professional work to connect with people in what he refers to as dance animation —  “developing new relationships between dance artists and diverse members of the community.” What interests Durand is the potential for dance animation to address social issues, develop community, stimulate creativity and build audiences.  

The act of creating something, working together toward an outcome, is empowering and builds a sense of belonging" - Karen Jamieson

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